Ohio tackles seafood weighting issues
Because there are compliance issues with Ohio’s frozen seafood weighting, the Ohio Grocers Association (OGA) in Columbus, Ohio, is developing a “best practices guide” for its members.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Department of Weight and Measures asked the OGA to develop better practices for the industry because of ongoing issues with retailers over short-weighting frozen seafood, said Kristin Mullins, executive VP and CEO of the OGA.
“There have been warnings against retailers in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Agriculture does not think it is negligence … or that malice is involved. We just have to get some better practices,” said Mullins.
Short-weighting is still a problem among many retailers, despite last year’s 17-state investigation, which led to the removal of more than 21,000 packages of seafood from supermarkets. Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture organized the investigation, which, in addition to Ohio, impacted retailers in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Washington and Wisconsin.
To educate retailers, suppliers and other stakeholders on the issue, SeafoodSource is sponsoring a webinar on Tuesday 1 February titled “How to Protect Yourself From Short-Weighting.” Dave Sefcik with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will talk about how to ensure the accurate net quantity of packaged seafood and the regulations on weighting.
Meanwhile, Mullins is urging Ohio grocers to “conduct their business in good faith” until OGA can develop the best practices guideline.
“When adjusting the tare in your seafood department, you must allow for the ice so that you are ensuring accurate weighting/ pricing structure,” according to an article in OGA’s recent member newsletter.
Putting together the guideline is a “daunting task”, said Mullins. “Different retailers do it different ways. Some have packages weighted before they get into their stores,” said Mullins, adding that she is unsure when the best-practices guideline will be published.
The OGA is seeking input on the best-practices guidelines from NIST and frozen food associations. The organization is also open to receiving information from seafood industry organizations.